by Tobas Singer
“There are three things that will never change: my love for women, admiration for the art of dance, and my dedication and love for my country. These will never, ever change.”
– Fernando Alonso, as told to Librinsula magazine
Cuban ballet dancers are distinguished by a combination of the bold and rigorous Russian tradition and the notably refined English style. Cuban ballet, which continues to develop a strong foothold in Florida, is characterized by structure and passion, attributes that a man named Fernando Alonso helped shape.
Author Toba Singer, who is an authority in the world of ballet herself, relays Alonso’s story largely in his own words, through a comprehensive series of interviews. Still a master teacher today, Alonso’s life has been as far-reaching and dynamic as it is daringly political. It was Alonso’s passionate advocacy for ballet that won the support of Cuba’s revolutionary, Castro-led government, changing ballet from an exclusive preserve of the aristocracy to an art accessible to ordinary Cubans. If playing a visionary role as the principal founder and mentor of the Cuban National Ballet isn’t remarkable enough, Alonso also studied with the greatest golden era ballet figures and danced on Broadway.
Celebrated ballerina Alicia Alonso, who was Fernando’s wife for many years and worked with him at the center of the effort to construct the Cuban National Ballet, also offers her perspective on his role and influence.The book includes additional recollections from illustrious figures in both the Cuban and international ballet world: dancers, choreographers, and others who worked with Alonso.